By Bay City News Service
Former North Coast state senator and assemblywoman Pat Wiggins died this morning at age 73.
Wiggins served six years in the assembly and four years in the senate. She cited health issues as the reason for not running in 2010 for re-election to the state senate.
Wiggins, a Santa Rosa Democrat, was a former Santa Rosa city councilwoman. She represented the 7th Assembly District that included Sonoma, Napa and Solano counties between 1998 and 2004 and was elected to the state senate in 2006.
State Sen. Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa, adjourned the senate's floor session this morning in Wiggins' memory. Evans said Wiggins passed away at 2 a.m. after "a very, very long illness."
Evans said Wiggins dealt with "some very profound difficulties during her years in the state Legislature.
"One of which was that she was almost completely deaf," Evans said.
"Although she didn't make a big deal of it, she had a very, very difficult time hearing anything and she mostly read lips and that's how she understood what people were saying to her," Evans said in a news release today.
"She not only was she my former colleague on the Santa Rosa City Council, she was my friend, and my hero and really my older sister because everywhere Pat went, I seemed to follow," Evans said.
"We will remember her as being an extraordinary leader and extraordinary friend," Evans said.
Senate President pro tempore Darrell Steinberg said he will remember Wiggins as a "gracious, thoughtful and visionary public servant, but more importantly, a reliable and trusted friend."
Steinberg said Wiggins' advocacy for the state's wine industry, including controlling the grape vine pest, the grassy-winged sharpshooter, is legendary among growers and wine producers.
"I offer my prayers to her husband Gary and their family as they remember a truly wonderful woman and selfless public servant," Steinberg said.
In the assembly, Wiggins founded the legislature's Smart Growth Caucus. She also authored legislation on farm worker housing, finding for agricultural protection and establishing urban growth boundaries.